How can one begin to appreciate the remarkable story of how this world came to be? How do you behold the beauty of its journey over eons? Just as the movie Journey of the Universe succeeded in conveying magnificence to a general adult audience, Dana Lynne Andersen also succeeded in conveying magnificence to children when she illustrated the three-part Universe Trilogy picture book series authored by Jennifer Morgan.
“The universe’s story has two important parts and both need to be addressed,” she said in a recent interview. “There is the rational, scientific part of the story, and also the mythical, emotional part of us that came into being when the universe came into being. The story is not simply dry facts. It’s the universe itself – and that’s us! – telling its own story.”
To reveal both aspects of the story Dana painted with a unique blend of realism and abstraction. “It’s important to show that underneath the chaos, there is also a feeling of unity,” she said. “The sense of a world with its emotional tones, its feeling energy, is brought in with juicy colors and shapes that make the changing forms real and meaningful.”
One can sense in the Universe Trilogy—Born with a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals Who Morph—a reflection of cosmic energy struggling to be born. As told in both the children’s books and the movie, the evolving universe went through periods of dramatic crises and apparent catastrophes, only to emerge with brilliant solutions that further laid the foundations for life.
Dana is the founder of Awakening Arts Network, which she describes as “a resource for artists who are using art to uplift humanity. We are a group of more than a thousand artists from around the world who have many different styles and approaches, but a commonality of pursuing art for a higher purpose.”
“Modern art of the 20th Century reflected a need to break free of the and the dogmas and demands of tradition. ‘Art for art’s sake’ may have been a necessary phase in the beginning of modern art because there was a need to break free of the past and the dogmas and demands of tradition. Art for its ‘shock value’ was a healthy thing to do. It was, in a sense, a wild adolescent period.”
But, she says, “it is the artist’s role in society to lift the mind and heart above the fray in order to access creative solutions. Art must show solutions and not just reflections of the problems. Art can and should do more than represent what is already visible – it has the power to bring forth what is otherwise invisible, from the spiritual and transcendent realms of timeless truth.”
The newly-understood story of the universe as portrayed in both her books and the movie, Dana says, “brings forth a new paradigm entailing an experience that resonates on a deep level of our being—a sense of awe that facts alone can’t provide.” The science is essential, she agrees, but the role of her art is to “deliberately shift the focus of our attention to the inherent magnificence of the cosmos, and give it the awe and respect that is native to it. And as we’re feeling that awe, we begin to remember the vastness of who we really are.”